The Crown: Diana actress says Netflix drama ‘clearly fictional’

The actress who plays Princess Diana in Netflix’ hit drama, The Crown, has said audiences know it is "clearly fictional" as criticism of the new series continues.

Actress Elizabeth Debicki  plays Princess Diana in the forthcoming series of The Crown on Netflix (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actress Elizabeth Debicki plays Princess Diana in the forthcoming series of The Crown on Netflix (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Debicki’s comments came after two former Prime Ministers spoke out over how they are depicted in the fifth series which starts on November 9.

A spokesman for Tony Blair described a scene reportedly showing Charles trying to recruit the former Labour PM as an ally to protect his future and pave the way for him to marry Camilla as “complete and utter rubbish.”

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Sir John also wrote to the Daily Telegraph over a scene in which Charles, played by Dominic West, cuts short a holiday with Diana to host a secret meeting with the Tory politician at which they discuss potentially ousting the Queen.

The former Prime Minister wrote that it "will be profoundly hurtful to a family who are still grieving for the very person on whose life the entire drama was founded.”

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Now the Australian actress who plays the late princess has added her voice to the debate surrounding the new series. Asked whether she felt defensive to the criticism in an interview with the Guardian, she said: "I don't really. I understand what the show is and what it's trying to do. I also understand the reaction to it. I think this is a period of time that's been told many times over and will continue to be told, and I know the degree of care and respect people enter into these stories with."

The actress feels in her mind the show is a television drama, based on real events.

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"I mean, it is clearly fictional. I feel like audiences know that, because there are actors, playing parts," she added. "I never watched The Crown and thought, 'this is a documentary' or 'this is obviously true'."

Last month, stage and screen veteran Dame Judi called for a disclaimer to be added to each episode of The Crown as she felt there was a risk that "a significant number of viewers" will take its events as historical truth.

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Netflix added a disclaimer to the description of the latest trailer but stopped short of adding the message to the trailer itself. It already described the show as "fictionalised drama" in its press materials, on social media and on The Crown's landing page on its platform.

For the upcoming fifth and the final sixth series, Debicki is taking over the role of Diana, who Emma Corrin portrayed in series four.

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The series will see her dramatise sensitive scenes including Diana's divorce from Charles and the infamous Panorama interview with former BBC journalist Martin Bashir. Debicki said that despite the sensitivity of the role and knowing it would bring intense scrutiny on her, she was never reluctant on joining the show.

"I went off instinct and I didn't overthink it. I've watched this show and loved it for years," she said. "I knew I was stepping into working with people who were extremely intelligent and very sensitive about how they went about creating the script and making decisions. So, I never felt like I'd jumped on unstable ground."